Record 70-83. Change on last season: +23
And so, we say goodbye to Bank One Ballpark and "Hello!" to Chase Field [see the diary on the right], as my "What about BOB?" shirt becomes a collector's item. Hmm: Chase Field. Rolls off the tongue quite easily, but doesn't have such a catchy acronym - "going to CF tonight" hasn't the same ring. We'll get used to it eventually, I guess.
And if you're going to go, this was the way to do it: a walk-off three-run homer gives us victory in extra innings, to complete our first sweep since April 27th, and extending our winning streak to four - again the longest roll we've managed in 130 games and almost five months. Heck, if we sweep the Padres this upcoming series, we'll be only 3.5 games back: might make for an amusing final week!
And we have arranged our rotation to make the most of it. Said Melvin: "San Diego's a team in first place, you've got to try to put your best foot forward... You like to run most of your best ones out there against a team that's in first place, in contention to win the division." I guess the word "most" is used because, between Vargas and Vazquez, Ortiz pitches Saturday. Okay, forget what I said about a sweep.
Alex Cintron proved both goat and hero, at opposite ends of the game: his fielding miscues in the first innings helped the Dodgers get a three-run lead, when Jeff Kent blasted one into our bullpen, but it was his 12th inning shot that won the game for Arizona. "I was frustrated a little bit, I was like, 'What's wrong here?' I should have got those balls," Cintron said. "The good thing about this is I end up being the hero. That's the game -- you look bad one time and then you can be the hero. That's why I wasn't worried about it."
Well, "hero" is a relative term: even the Banana was uncharacteristically back-handed in its compliment: "Cintron's homer looked more like a golf swing, and was more luck than anything as he whacked a changeup from his shoe tops an estimated 371 feet." This largely is in line with icecoldmo's report: "If he proceeds to continue this approach to the plate, he will be playing only a short time more with the Dbacks."
After that wobbly first inning, Estes settled down credibly enough, not allowing any more runs to score until he left after six innings (eight hits and a walk; only one K). With Medders and Worrell out, it was the B-list relievers who were pressed into action, along with Valverde, who made his third consecutive appearance in the tenth. Cormier blew our 4-3 lead in the eighth, but after him, the next six pitchers allowed two hits and a walk over five scoreless innings.
Three hits apiece for Green and Clark, the latter also tied the game at three, appropriately enough in the third and with his 30th home-run of the year. Though, destroying the pleasing symmetry, it wasn't a three-run shot, thanks to a sac fly by Tracy earlier in the inning. Counsell and Cintron both had two hits each.
However, BOB left not with a bang, but a whimper: the last game played out before just 18,808 - just sixty-six more than the all-time low attendance in the stadium's seven-year history. Perhaps the prospect of 15,000 Chase rally towels and 2,500 Chase Field T-shirts being given away tonight will bring out the crowd for the final home series.
Thanks to William K, azdb7, Devin, Otacon and icecoldmo for their comments. Look forward to seeing the last-named's Fall League reports: I might get to take in a game or two myself, though since there's no Scottsdale team this year, it'll be a little harder. And while there won't be daily updates here, don't expect complete silence either. A lot of stuff to chew over as we huddle round the hot stove and plan for 2006...
We also got to hear one of the most horrible, cringeworthy moments the Brennaman/Grace combo has ever produced, while Dodgers reliever Kuo was pitching. There was a conference at the mound, and they were discussing how they could talk to the Taiwanese pitcher. Grace said the Dodgers pitching coach spent a lot of time over there; Brennaman replied that was in Japan. Grace said, "This may seem like a dumb question, but do they speak the same language?" To which Brennaman responded: "That's a good question."
No, it's not. It's a fifth-grade Geography question! Grace can perhaps be forgiven - and at least admitted it was dumb - but Brennaman should have agreed. But to make matters worse, later on, Grace asked "What's Taiwanese for great curveball," to which Brennaman replied "Konnichi-wa" - which is Japanese for hello. I was offended, and I'm about as non-Oriental as you can get, so we switched off to watch Constantine. During a bathroom break, I flicked back, and it did seem like people had called in to criticize them, but unlike Grace's F-bombs earlier in the year, this wasn't an accident, just sheer narrow-minded ignorance.
Once again, Cintron, Clark and Tracy (the CCT Force?) were the productive offense, getting all seven RBIs. The trio drove in 11 of 14 in this series, after having 11 of 12 RBIs in Colorado. Add Glaus, and in the past ten games, the rest of the roster has just three RBIs combined (Gonzo 2, Counsell 1), compared to the CCT Force + Glaus's 30. Which bring us to:
Heroes and Zeroes, Series 49: vs. Dodgers, at home
Vazquez: 7.2 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 1 ER, 7 K
Webb: 7.2 IP, 9 H, 0 BB, 2 ER, 11 K
Cintron: 3-for-9, 6 RBI
Yes, that's not a mistake: nobody below the line. What else did you expect from our first sweep since April? Still, up until Cintron's 12th-inning dramatics, we had only scored 11 runs in 27 innings. The sweep is much more a testament to our pitchers, who had an overall ERA of 2.10 over the series - our bullpen was all the way down at 1.04, and Valverde almost made it, on the strength of 3.1 innings of one-hit ball and two saves.
But Cintron can't be denied: a key 2-RBI single in the first inning of the opener, and his game-ending shot last night bookended the series very nicely, lucky or not. Webb and Vazquez also deserve credit for their starts, and hopefully can carry this forward into next year - though I'm more hopeful for Brandon than Javy on that score.